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Updated May 2022

 

Figure S3.1 shows the average daily production of crude bitumen in Alberta, including volumes from surface mining projects.

In 2021

In 2021, mined bitumen production increased by 7.0 per cent to 253.0 thousand cubic meters per day (103 m3/d) or 1592.1 thousand barrels per day (103 bbl/d). Production in 2021 was up across most mining sites, with only two projects reporting annual decreases.

Highlights

Production data by project are reported in the ST39: Alberta Mineable Oil Sands Plant Statistics Monthly Supplement. The following are the highlights for 2021 mined bitumen production:

  • Mine production levels fluctuated throughout the year, primarily attributable to planned turnaround projects at many mining sites.
  • Mine optimization was a priority among producers as efforts to reduce costs and increase the productivity of their mines led to historically high production levels for several mines.
  • Global recovery in crude oil demand led to higher prices in the latter half of 2021, which mining producers benefitted from, having completed most of their turnarounds in the first half of the year.
  • Production at the Fort Hills mine remained subdued. Despite the successful restart of its second processing train in late 2020, Suncor identified an issue with slope stability on the south side of the mine. Fort Hills resumed two-train operations in late 2021 after completing work to restore the structural integrity of the mine site.   

Forecast 2022 to 2031

A list of proposed projects considered in the forecast is included in the methodology section.

In line with improving market conditions, mined production volumes are expected to continue their robust growth in the near term. By 2031, mined bitumen production is forecast to increase to 287.0 103 m3/d (1806.1 103 bbl/d). From 2021 onwards, the growth rate expected is about 1.2 per cent per year, which is lower than the 6.0 per cent observed during the past decade.

Most of the near-term forecasted growth comes from existing facilities ramping up to production levels consistent with improved market conditions and increased productivity. Over the latter part of the forecast, new production volumes from expansion and debottlenecking projects will contribute to production growth.

Expansions, pit replacements, and debottlenecking stand to benefit from the reduced cost of using existing infrastructure, labour, and materials. Producers will continue to explore and capitalize on various cost-saving opportunities.

No greenfield (new) mines are expected to start operations within the forecast period. Based on the crude bitumen supply costs estimates for 2021, current prices will continue to be insufficient to encourage widespread development of new mining projects.

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